Monday, September 29, 2014

A Little Immunology, Self As Trial, etc.

(Boring medical detail ahead.)

Dear readers, it will not surprise you to hear that having suppressed my cell-mediated immunity with pregnancy and then knocked down my innate immunity with asthma drugs, when I get a cold... I feel very, very ill.  Also, my immune system was a piece of junk to start with.

(Side note: Sometimes I hear people saying they want to take X - echinacea, elderberry, ginger, whatever - to 'strengthen' their immune system. It finally dawned on me why this thought gives me hives: how the hell do you know it won't just turn the whole shebang up a notch, rather than boosting your specific cell-based response to rhinovirus?  Oh, that's right, you don't.  Even fancy pharmaceuticals have a lot of off-target effects.  Now imagine it's a plant..... I spend a lot of time and effort trying to turn down my immune system so it will stop, say, giving me eaten-by-ants feelings all over my body, so no, I don't want to try elderberry.)

I asked about told the midwives I wasn't taking the asthma drugs any more: less allergies = less immune system = why am I taking another immune suppressant.  Unless then I can't breathe, in which case, just kidding!  Their response was mostly "Um... okay.  Let us know how that goes."

I also stopped taking long-acting antihistamines because they cause lower blood pressure and mine was 96/59 this week.  Plus, additional hit to immune system.

Sometimes I wish I knew less.  Then I would feel less responsible for paying attention to what's going on, what the relative risks are, and what choice to make.  "Oh, the doctor told me to!" I could exclaim cheerfully.  Instead, well, at least nothing too weird has happened yet.


  1. Sorry you're feeling so awful. My husband is convinced whiskey is the cure-all, at least when it comes to colds... alas, that's not an option right now.
    I think "the doctor told me to" is all great as long as things work. But I think I picked sides in the [ignorance is] bliss vs. [knowledge is] power category a while back. And I agree it's not always easy.

  2. I'm glad nothing too weird is happening yet, and I think the delicate balance of your immune system will be ok without the extra drugs. At the very least, you are self-aware enough to monitor how things are going, and make decisions based on sound scientific knowledge.

    I began to write a lengthy description of my current "doctors vs. knowledge" goings-on, but I should really email you anyway. No one else wants to hear about my precious snowflake's weird allergy-tonsils thing.

  3. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Although if you knew less, seems like you'd just be more helpless in the face of medicine's total failure to help you out of this shitty place. I hope this helps. And that your internet name for this fine child you're carrying is Elderberry.


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